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The Arli-Dazzle Christmas Light Parade

A small Minnesota town with a surprisingly big holiday celebration


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Photo courtesy of The Arlington MN Chamber of Commerce

When I was little, my dad would drive my siblings and I around our small town of Arlington to look at all the festive lights people would put up. We’d listen to Christmas music on the radio and ooh and ahh over people’s decorations. We’d ask dad why we didn’t decorate our own house with lights every year—even though we knew it was because of our location 10 miles outside of Arlington, where rarely anyone would see the decorations.

In 2009, much to my delight, Arlington started an annual tradition of a Christmas-themed light parade. Now, in 2016, it's considered (probably) one of the biggest lighted parades in Minnesota, which is quite a feat considering Arlington’s population is only 2,000 people. The parade and winter fireworks (held this year on Dec. 3) is my hometown's biggest event of the year, and well worth the one-hour drive from the Twin Cities. And there's so much more.

The Arli-Dazzle celebrations begin in the morning, with Santa Day at the community center, which includes art projects, a bake sale, book sale, and lunch available for purchase. Other festivities throughout the day include Santa’s reindeer, horse drawn sleigh rides, interaction with a real sled dog team, and a snowball baseball game. The whole town joins in on the fun (no Scrooge found here) with businesses decorating their storefronts, and everyone helping out with the festivities. A few years ago, I helped my church sell hot chocolate to parade goers as a fundraiser for a mission trip, and my siblings have helped out before by selling hotdogs before the parade.  

 The decorations downtown add to the Christmas cheer—lighted strands of garland reach out across the road from building to building and red-bowed wreaths are centered above the middle of the road. It’s like something you’d see in a picture book—and always made better, of course, by a light snowfall after the sunset. There may be more elaborate Christmas displays elsewhere, but I’ve always thought my hometown had the best decorations of any town ever.

From participating in the parade with Kay Marie & Carol’s School of Dance (we danced to “Ice, Ice Baby” with battery operated light strands wrapped around our arms) to watching on the sidelines with my family as the lighted floats go by—the Santa and Mrs. Claus float is always the favorite—Arlington’s Arli-Dazzle parade always puts me in the Christmas spirit. 

Arli-Dazzle Parade
Saturday, December 3, 2016
Visit arlingtonmnchamber.com for the parade route, new additions to the festivities (such as ice sculptures from Waterville, Minn. and the professional caroling group Decantus), and a schedule of activities.

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